Hobie Mirage Outback: The best fishing kayak for all-around fishing

Are you looking for the best all-around pedal kayak? Check out Hobie’s most adaptable Mirage Drive Outback

Imagine a kayak that can do it all. Go anywhere, catch anything, fit every fishing style and lifestyle. A kayak that is at home on a farm pond or the open ocean. It’s comfortable and reliable. Most importantly, the best all-around kayak should make fishing easier and more fun. The Hobie Mirage Outback has all of those characteristics and is truly a do it all fishing kayak.

Hobie Mirage Outback Specs:

  • Weight: 85 pounds/103 pounds
  • Length: 12 feet, 9 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Hull: Rotomolded Polyethylene
  • Drive type: Mirage Drive 180 with Kick Up Fins
  • Price: $3149

What Kind of Fishing Kayak is the Hobie Mirage Outback?

There are kayaks for ocean fishing and kayaks for swamp fishing—and then there are kayaks that try to do it all. The Hobie Mirage Outback is one of the do-it-all kayaks that specializes in stand-up fishing. As the original Mirage Drive kayak, Hobie designed the Outback to fit any angler’s needs. In 20 years since the Outback fishing kayak was released, Hobie has released the Revolution for offshore fishing, the low-price Compass, and the full-feature Pro Angler, but the Outback remains the Swiss Army knife in Hobie’s lineup. Redesigned in 2019, the Outback has been updated with modern features but remains the do-it-all boat in the Hobie kayak lineup.

Fisherman standing on a yellow Hobie kayak making a cast in open water.
A stand-up kayak built for the serious angler. Hobie

Hobie Mirage Drive Outback Key Features

Hobie gave the Mirage Drive Outback a long list of kayak fishing features in a smaller, lighter kayak to fit any angler’s plans. This makes the Outback one of the best pedal kayaks for stand-up fishing.

For example, the Hobie Mirage Outback has a padded deck for improved comfort and to deaden noise. The deck is large and flat with plenty of standing room. I like how all the accessories are flush with the deck to avoid snagging my fishing line.

The Outback has a small hatch in the bow and a large tankwell in the stern, with two flushmount rod holders behind the seat and two in the bow. Stand-up kayaks are best for day trips, so Hobie saved space with a smaller hatch for storage and a larger deck in the cockpit. The huge tankwell has plenty of room for tackle, with space for a small cooler or a livewell.

Hobie added their best fishing kayak features to the new Outback. To start, they gave the boat the H-Rail accessory system. The innovative accessory system uses a short metal tube running down each side of the cockpit that accepts Hobie’s line of matching mounting bases. The H-Rail is stronger than a gear track and offers unlimited options for positioning the accessory. Once a rod holder base or electronics mount is installed properly, it will not slip or spin.

Unique to the Outback, the H-Rails are integrated into a gear track and accessory station with cutouts for a bait knife, other tools, and a small tackle box. This makes the H-Rail and cubby a perfect catch-all for lures, terminal tackle, pliers, and other flotsam from fishing all day.

Another favorite feature is the vertical storage well in the deck. Between the seat and pedal drive a large hatch hides a huge below-deck storage area. A plastic tub in the hatch is large enough to hold tackle trays, lunch, and fishing gear. Or, the tub can serve as cold storage for the day’s catch. Remove the tub, and the hatch opens to the inside of the hull for more storage and access.

The hatch provides dry storage and access to the inside of the hull, and it holds tackle and gear that would normally take up space in a bow hatch or stern well. Not only does the center hatch protect my gear, but placing more weight lower in the center of the kayak improves the boat’s stability.

One of my favorite features on Hobie’s top-of-the-line kayaks is the Guardian Retractable Sonar Shield. To work properly, a side-scan transducer needs a clear view to either side of the boat. But, the transducer hanging below the keel puts it in the line of fire for hitting an underwater obstruction or dragging across the ground. The sonar shield allows the angler to pull a cord and retract the transducer in shallow water. Or, if the transducer hits a rock or log, it pops up into the hull undamaged. The system is designed to accept any transducer puck, even the long narrow ones used for side-scan sonar.

Hobie’s Vantage CTW seat is its most comfortable throne there is. With four-way adjustment for a perfect fit and mesh padding to provide sturdy support, the Vantage CTW is made for all-day fishing. The CTW is an inch and a half wider than most frame seats to carry a full-size angler comfortably.

These simple but smart accessories make the Outback one of the best pedal kayaks for fishing. Whether you’re exploring isolated farm ponds or covering miles of open water, this Hobie kayak offers the opportunities to rig the boat for the fishing you do.

Fisherman on an orange Hobie Mirage Outback kayak reeling in a largemouth bass.
A sturdy and comfortable fishing kayak. Hobie

A Note on the Mirage Drive 180 with Kick Up Fins

To power the Outback, Hobie installed their top-of-the-line Mirage Drive 180 with Kick Up Fins. After years of research and development, Hobie developed the most advanced, reliable, and powerful Mirage Drive pedal system.

Twenty years ago, Hobie reinvented human-powered watercraft with the first Mirage Drive pedal system. Instead of turning bicycle pedals to spin a propeller, the Mirage Driver kicks two levers that flap two flexible flippers below the boat. Based on the design of a penguin’s wing, the Mirage Drive fins fly through the water.

Fans of the flipper systems say the Mirage Drive is more powerful and easier to operate than a pedal-driven propeller. Each has advantages, and both sides have die-hard advocates who argue the benefits of flippers and propellers. One of my favorite features of the Mirage Drive pedal system is instant zero draft. By kicking one pedal forward, I can flatten the fins against the bottom of the boat to cross shallow water.

To further improve shallow water performance, the Mirage Drive 180 comes with Kick Up Turbo Fins and Kick Up Rudder. If the flippers or rudder hit an obstruction, they fold out of the way. As soon as the obstruction is cleared, the fins pop back into place.

The downside of the Mirage Drive 180 is shifting into reverse. A propeller drive offers instant reverse, but to go backwards with the Mirage Drive, I have to reach down and pull a cord that spins the flippers. After some time in the Outback, I found shifting into reverse became second nature. Unlike a propeller, the Mirage Drive fins don’t lose power going backwards.

How We Tested this Fishing Kayak

While the Mirage Drive Outback is Hobie’s do-it-all boat, my favorite time to grab one of the sportiest boats in the lineup is when I’m hitting a backwater haunt with light tackle.

At 12-feet long and 34 inches wide, the Outback saves two inches and 20 pounds on the Pro Angler 12, making the boat great for quick trips in sheltered waters.

When I get to the backwater, the open, padded deck makes the Outback perfect for stand-up kayak fishing. Another advantage of the Mirage Drive is it doesn’t take up much space in the deck. You can even pull the drive out and store it in the tankwell. Without the drive, the Outback is easier to control while standing and fishing.

In this Hobie fishing kayak, I can sneak into marsh creeks and across shallow flats to chase down skinny-water ghosts. Sight fishing is where the stand-up features really shine. But even when I’m fishing deeper, standing in this Hobie kayak makes it easier to cast a lure and work my catch to the boat. 

When I do need to cross open water or the weather turns for the worst, I have the Mirage Drive to carry me home. The Outback isn’t strictly a single purpose boat. It’s a kayak that can do everything no matter where you fish.

Speed, Tracking, and Maneuverability

The problem with a do-it-all boat is sometimes they don’t do anything well. Not true with the Mirage Drive Outback. Sure, it’s not as fast as the Revolution or as seaworthy as a Pro Angler, but this Hobie kayak is more than capable in both dimensions.

The Outback is primarily designed for standing and fishing, so the stability is rock solid. Not only does it have a wide, broad hull, but the soft chine (where the bottom of the boat meets the side) is rounded to absorb waves. The pedal drive and rudder further improve stability making the Outback an easy platform for stand-up kayak fishing.

The downside of a wide stable hull affects speed and tracking. Adding a pedal drive overcomes these limitations. The flippers provide plenty of power and help keep the boat going straight. Most important, Hobie isn’t afraid to add a big rudder. The Outbacks Kick Up Rudder is more than enough to turn the boat in tight circles. And, if the rudder hits bottom, it pops up to avoid damage.

The Outback sits low to the water to improve performance in the wind, and a narrow bow helps the boat cut into waves. While the Outback isn’t as robust as the Pro Angler, it doesn’t back away from a fight. The kayak can reliably handle pretty much any sea conditions, but does best in sheltered water.

The Outback is so user-friendly, it’s the boat I grab for guests and new anglers. The sporty performance and stable hull inspire confidence and make kayak fishing easier. If I’m going on a quick trip with a handful of gear, the Outback is perfect for grab and go fishing.

Stand-up Fishing in Shallow Water

With the Hobie Mirage Drive Outback, I get all the top fishing features and advanced design in a manageable boat. 

The rod holders behind the seat are angled for trolling, while the rod holders in the bow are great for soaking bait and drifting. The front rod holders are also perfect for holding the rod while I stand and paddle.

The H-Rail and tackle organizers on either side of the cockpit are convenient for holding the gear I need while I stand-up fish. I don’t have to turn around to grab my pliers or a bag of soft plastics from the tankwell. Gear tracks and H-Rails offer a choice for mounting my fishfinder and other accessories. 

Hobie was wise to give the Outback a huge tankwell. Anglers want to tackle boxes and gear in easy to reach places. Gear tracks on either side of the well make it convenient to secure a crate, cooler, or livewell as well as hold a camera mount or more rod holders.

My favorite feature is the deck hatch and vertical storage. On quick trips, I throw my tackle and gear in the hatch and a couple rods in a Hobie H-Crate. On longer days, the convenient hatch is large enough to hold lunch and extra layers of clothes.

Hobie’s Outback with Mirage Drive 180 with Kick Up Fins is an easy-to-use, easy-to-own pedal boat that still has Hobie’s best fishing features. A wide, stable hull and smart rigging make the Hobie Outback Mirage Drive ready for anything.

What this Hobie Fishing Kayak Does Best: Backwater Stand-up Fishing

The Hobie Outback with Mirage Drive is an all-around boat that performs best for stand-up fishing in sheltered waters. Hobie gave the Outback its best features and design then powered it with the most advanced Mirage Drive 180. This is a great fishing boat for lakes and ponds or bays and marshes. The top of the line CTW Vantage seat provides all-day comfort. Then, the wide, flat, padded deck invites anglers to stand and fish. Forward tackle and gear storage and a huge deck hatch allow the angler to reach lures, leaders, and tools without turning around. To quickly go into shallow-water mode, the Mirage Drive 180 fins fit flat to the bottom of the kayak. And, if the fins or rudder hit an object, they automatically flip back out of the way.

What this Hobie Kayak Does Worst: Not the Best for Covering Miles of Open Water

As a boat designed to do-it-all, the Hobie Mirage Outback has limitations. It’s not as fast as a Revolution or as seaworthy as a Pro Angler or as light as the Compass. As a stand-up boat, it excels in stability and deck space. Low sides help the boat cheat the wind, and a narrow bow does its best to cut through chop. Maybe the Outback isn’t going to win a race or cross the English Channel, but the boat will get there in comfort and style.

Does this Hobie Kayak Deliver On Its Mission?

Two decades ago, Hobie set out to design a fishing kayak that would get more people on the water. The Hobie Outback is the result. The original Outback is the best selling boat in Hobie’s history because it can fit so many angler’s needs. After a major redesign in 2019, the Outback was re-released with the modern fishing and performance features to once again be a kayak for everyone.